Tired of having games taken away from him due to injury, Matt Taberner was thrilled to have the chance to play regular footy in 2020 after it appeared the season was in jeopardy early in the year.
The 27-year-old played all but one game in 2020 after starting 26 of a possible 66 games between 2017 and 2019. He kicked 29 goals in a career-best season that saw him named in the All Australian squad.
Drafted as a rookie in 2013, the 198cm forward had shown glimpses of his potential in recent seasons where he was held back by his inability to play regular football.
“The 2018 and 2019 seasons, I think I got off to good starts and then getting struck down with a couple of stress fractures. I made a few modifications (to my training) and I was confident coming into this season that I could get through because of the changes I made,” Taberner said.
“I felt reinvigorated and was keen to get out and play a full season but that looked in jeopardy there in April. I’m glad that we were able to play football when it was almost taken away at one point.
“To play every game bar one this year feels like a good achievement for myself. Just knowing that my body can get through a full season, especially with the shortened breaks (between games) this year.”
Taberner provided more than his goal-kicking ability in 2020, ranking first at Fremantle for distance covered with an average of 12.3km per game in 2020.
His ability to come up the ground and have an aerial impact on the wings saw him rank second in the AFL for contested marks in 2020.
Taberner said senior coach Justin Longmuir encouraged his forwards to work hard around the ground instead of staying deep in front of goals.
"You might have to lead and create space for a teammate behind you, you might not necessarily get the ball but it’s just working for each other to put someone in the best position to kick a goal or get a mark because ultimately that’s what it’s all about. It’s about the team scoring not necessarily yourself," Taberner said.
"Because of Covid we haven’t had many full-ground training drills so (if normal training resumes in 2021) that will be a huge benefit for me personally.
"It will just be about being ready for round one, making sure my body is all sweet to go. I’ll train hard as always but it just won’t be going over the top and jeopardising the first couple of games."